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Where East Meets West in Learning

22 May 2014

You could say that BISS Puxi is where Socrates meets Confucius – a wise blend of learning cultures.

You may not realise, but at BISS Puxi the teaching philosophy is a mix of two ancient classical traditions in a modern environment.

Our exam students will certainly not be thanking the mandarin civil servant who in AD605 suggested a standardised entrance test for entry into the Chinese Civil Service. This became the first recorded exam in history and led to what we have today with the IB, IGCSEs, SATs, University entrance tests and more.

What this follower of Confucius was doing was creating a standardised test to see who out of all the applicants had placed most value on the ideas of the time in the East - that learning was to be valued and that knowledge was achieved through hard work and perseverance. This is seen in the ancient Chinese proverb that talks of turning an iron bar into a needle by striking it over and over and over again. This philosophy of hard work and perseverance has been credited with the high performance of young people in places such as Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea. A determination to succeed no matter what their socio-economic circumstances is what is being tested.

Central to this philosophy is the role of the teacher the “laoshi” (wise old head). Confucianism sees the teacher as the centre of wisdom and knowledge, not only about their subject but about life, and parents and pupils often want this to be a re-assuring truth.

The western philosophy of Socrates does not oppose this idea; it simply evolves the role of the Teacher. Socrates ensured learning by encouraging his students to assume he knew nothing and, through his questioning skills, he encouraged them to learn for themselves.  

The Socratic method of learning encourages questioning and critical thinking skills in collaboration with peers and a teacher. This style of teaching is an art and an expert teacher ensures that students know where to look and how to ask the right questions to learn effectively.

This difference in the role of the teacher and learner is what makes our school a place where East meets West. We take the value placed on education and learning from Confucius and implant it in all students so that they have an ethos and a flexible set of skills and behaviours that prepare them not only for exams but for life beyond school.  The role of the wise laoshi is one we nurture, but without the need to lecture, rather with the need to inspire confidence so that students inquire and learn for themselves. 

With this combination of East and West, your child is in the right place to be inspired by the blend of cultures. We encourage the opportunity to learn in a positive environment where success is an expectation and you see this in our Education for Character and High Performance Learning principles.  

We prepare our students to continue their learning by exploring opportunities and reflecting on outcomes. These thinking and learning behaviours mean students can continue to grow beyond school, even when the teacher is not there.

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